Latest SC suspect in Capitol riot accused of assaulting police with a deadly weapon

The latest of five men so far arrested in South Carolina in connection with the Jan. 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol is accused of a level of violence not yet publicly alleged against the others, according to court records.

Evidence in the case of Nicholas Languerand, 26, alleges that on Jan. 6 he “threw a variety of objects,” including a traffic barrier and a can of bear spray, at law enforcement officers defending the West Terrace Tunnel entrance to the Capitol, a U.S. Attorney’s District of Columbia statement on the case said.

Languerand is not from South Carolina, but right after the Capitol riot, he moved from Vermont to his grandparents’ house in Little River, a coastal town just north of North Myrtle Beach and was arrested there on April 15, according to evidence in the case.

Of the five arrested so far in South Carolina in connection with the Capitol riot, Languerand is the only one charged with assaulting an officer using a deadly weapon, according to a review of charging documents. Although the other men face serious charges of disrupting an official proceeding of Congress and the like, none of the others is charged with actually attacking an officer.

Languerand also appears to have been motivated at least in part by the false conspiracy theory that Democrats committed election fraud to steal the November election from former President , according to evidence in his case.

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A note found on Languerand’s cell phone, which was seized by the FBI, said, “If you’re okay with fraudulently certifying an election to win, then I’m okay with attacking a government building to stop you,” according to evidence in his case.

Key evidence for the assault criminal charge includes a video showing Languerand in a crowd of yelling people confronting law officers at the Capitol’s West Terrace Tunnel entrance area, according to testimony last month at a hearing in Florence by FBI agent Patricia Norden.

That West Terrace Tunnel area on Jan. 6 was the scene of some of the fiercest battles between law enforcement and civilian insurrectionists as the civilians repeatedly tried to breach police lines, according to a Washington Post analysis of prosecutors’ arrest documents and video.

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During a hearing last month in Florence, federal prosecutor Elliott Daniels played a video of the West Terrace confrontation. Agent Norden identified Languerand, who wore a stocking hat and a face mask, as one of the people closest to law officers as rioters were trying to enter a tunnel that led inside the Capitol building.

“Is he at the very front line of the riot?” asked Daniels, an assistant U.S. attorney based in Columbia.

“Yes,” testified Norden, also based in Columbia.

“Nothing between him and the police?” asked Daniels.

“No,” testified Norden.

“Was it a political rally?”

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“It was a riot,” testified Norden.

Although people have wide latitude in freedom of speech, Daniels said, Languerand crossed a line when he moved from protected free speech to violence.

To have ideas is not a crime. That is not why he is here. He is willing to use force to enforce his views,” Daniels said.

QAnon follower?

Evidence found at Languerand’s house also linked him to QAnon, a medley of various baseless conspiracy theories on the internet supposedly spread by someone named Q, Norden and Daniels said at the hearing.

“Where we go one, we go all,” was a QAnon saying found on Languerand’s cell phone, FBI agent Norden testified at the hearing.

Another quote on the phone: “The FBI should really find a better hobby than intimidating and persecuting the patriots who stood up for their constitutional rights and against the seditious infiltration of the psychopathic criminal mafia into the government that they have sworn to protect,” according to evidence at the hearing.

The most prominent QAnon conspiracy theory basically asserts that Democrats and members of the “Deep State” kidnap children to use them in child sex trafficking rings.

Since lost the election, QAnon adherents have claimed without evidence that the election had been stolen from him.

However, there is no evidence to support that allegation. ’s Attorney General William Barr had the FBI conduct a nationwide search for voter fraud and found none that would have changed election results, according to the Associated Press. Some 60 lawsuits legal actions alleging voter fraud were thrown out of courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court.

In other writings on his cell phone, Languerand referred to himself as “a sleeper agent,” Daniels said.

Languerand wrote, “You have been trained and prepared for this moment … the individuals who are involved in 17 community are trained sleeper agents … though we have been very active since the beginning of the operation, we have not been activated … lock and load your memes … this is not a game,” Daniels told Magistrate Judge Thomas Rogers III, quoting from the phone. It was not clear what the term “17 community” referred to.

“He is telling us he is a sleeper agent, he is willing to be violent,” Daniels told the judge.

Various weapons — including an assault rifle with a 60-round magazine and two large knives — were found in Languerand’s bedroom in LIttle River, Daniels said.

Also on Languerand’s phone were photos of a Nazi swastika, a logo of the Three Percenters and a photo of Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio, Daniels said.

The Three Percenters are a nationalist group who believe that only three percent of Americans rebelled against the British in the Revolution. The Proud Boys are described as a male-only militia group and among those arrested on charges stemming from the Jan. 6 riot. Both Proud Boys and Three Percenters are among those arrested in the Jan. 6 riots, according to news accounts.

“He also writes about a bloody war to come,” Daniels told the magistrate judge.

Since Languerand is a former member of the U.S. Army and trained in weapons use, he is especially potentially dangerous, Daniels told the magistrate judge.

Daniels said other evidence showed Languerand was discharged in 2018 from the U.S. Army for a cocaine offense. After leaving the Army, he went to Vermont where he was involved in several disturbances documented by Vermont police agencies, Daniels said. In one disturbance, Languerand claimed that a Vermont pizza parlor was a front for a child sex trafficking ring, the prosecutor said.

Also in Vermont, Languerand had threatened a person who then went to a judge to obtain a protective order against him, ordering him to stay away, Daniels told the magistrate judge. The order said Languerand had told the person he would “put a bullet” in their head, said Daniels.

“He sent victim a photo of him holding brass knuckles,” Daniels said. “He stalked, he made threats.”

After the hearing, Magistrate Judge Rogers rejected Languerand’s request to have a bond set and found there was probable cause to support the government’s criminal charges against him.

Languerand is a danger to the community and poses a flight risk, Rogers ruled.

“Upon the search of his home..., the FBI confiscated drugs, weaponry (including AR-15 with 60 round capacity) and tactical gear. From his phone and social media postings, comments were discovered indicating an intent to continue to engage in disruptive action,” Rogers wrote in an order refusing bond.

“His threats of harm have been directed at others, as well as threats of self-harm. He has made numerous comments regarding disrespect for law enforcement to include willingness to be confrontational and threatening,” Rogers wrote.

Faith in Jesus

In turning down Languerand’s bid for bond, Rogers rejected arguments by supporters.

Testifying at the hearing, a woman who said she was Languerand’s grandmother told the magistrate judge that, “His faith in Jesus Christ is very strong.”

Languerand “served in the Army with the Airborne. He is a good person. He is a patriot and loves his country,” the woman said.

John Chaves, president of Chaves Enterprises of Conway, told the magistrate judge that he employs Languerand as a heavy equipment operator.

“He has been a very good employee, always on time, hardworking, conscientious,” Chaves said. “’He cares about the job, he comes in, he is a big help.”

Languerand’s lawyer, federal public defender Micheal Meetz, told Rogers that despite the law enforcement complaints against him, Languerand “doesn’t have a significant history of convictions.’’

In any case, it is not illegal for Languerand to have firearms and at the Capitol, there’s “no evidence that he actually injured anybody,” Meetz said. “There were a lot of bad things happening that day, but there is no evidence that this defendant hurt anybody.”

In South Carolina, he hasn’t been a threat to anyone, he has a good job and is willing to accept conditions that will restrict and monitor his movements, Meetz said.

FBI found suspect

A confidential informant dubbed “Witness 1” tipped off the FBI to Languerand after seeing a selfie of Languerand at the Capitol riot on Instagram, according to a complaint in the case.

Witness 1 said he had known Languerand for years and added, “This man is unstable and needs to be detained,” according to the complaint.

According to the complaint, Languerand “deactivated his Instagram account after his participation in the events of Jan. 6, 2021.”

That deactivation “following the criminal conduct is evidence of consciousness of guilt,” the complaint said.

No date has been set for his trial.

Languerand’s and all the South Carolina cases related to the U.S. Capitol riot have been transferred to the District of Columbia U.S. Attorney’s Office. Trials and guilty pleas will mostly take place in the District of Columbia.

That office is prosecuting all the Capitol riot-related cases, which now number some 400 defendants from more than 40 states, according to a CNN report this week.

The Capitol riot case, with its hundreds of defendants, is expected to be one of the largest criminal cases ever handled by the U.S. Department of Justice.

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